Setting Up Your Spanish Life Part 1: Bank Account and Cell Phone
Before arriving, I thought our first week would be stressful and I would be in a constant state of loser-tourist-map-holding. I am the worst with directions.
I was so wrong! It was an exciting and invigorating week. The kids were in awe of everything, people were so accommodating with our shotty Spanish, and we had a blast walking everywhere and building our stamina for our new pedi lifestyle. If you’re nervous about getting everything together – don’t be – it was easy and fun if you pace yourself and remember that from 13:00 – 15:00 you HAVE to chill at home because nothing will be open….siesta lifestyle baby;)
Pretty easy: Email Maria Luisa Soto Torres at Sabadell to set up an appointment. She will respond very quickly and she speaks English and has lots of experience with Brits and Americans alike: SOTOMARIALUISA@bancsabadell.com. There are many Sabadell bank branches but her address is Avenida Cardenal Benlloch, 11, Valencia 46021 and all you’ll need is a passport. You need the bank to be your first step as you will not be able to get a cell phone without a Spanish bank account.
Some people will tell you that you need a NIE card or NIE number (which comes in your Spanish visa while you are stateside before the NIE card which you will have to get in Spain) – this is not true. Bring it if you have it, but it’s not necessary to open the account. You don’t need a lease either, just a passport.
You will pay your landlord, cell phone, and likely your utilities using your Spanish bank account so be sure to save or pass along your “IBAN” number once you receive your account info. We got a debit and 2 credit cards with our account and the account itself costs 30 euro quarterly. We want to use the debit so that we’re not nicked every time we withdraw from a foreign bank but we won’t be using our Spanish credit card as there are no reward points like with our CapitalOne Visa from the states. However, there is no interest on the credit card so it’s personal preference really.
Sabadell has a lot of partnership banks so you’re able to use most ATMs in Europe for free – as long as you withdraw over 60 euro. Just to name a few: CajaSur, Caixa, and Bankia.
I can’t say nice enough things about Maria Luisa at Sabadell. She sat down with us for 45 minutes, gave the kids sticker pages, and even called City Hall for us. She helped my hubs and son get tickets to the Valencia C.F. futbol game too. Such a sweetheart. She will answer your emails right away.
There are lots of great cell phone options. Pepe Phone is very affordable and our landlord uses them for our internet which is lightning fast. Their plans are around 20 euro per line per month. We went to VodaFone and are currently paying around 60 euro for both phones with great data/minutes. They also provide streaming TV channels if that’s your bag.
You will need to bring a bank account IBAN number as well as your passport. Likely, do not expect to walk out with your new phone as the phone company will need to verify your information and that takes around 24 hours, so choose a branch that is close to where you live. We completed the whole process in under an hour. You can choose to lease a new phone through the cell company (paying every month) or they will just give you a SIM for a phone of your choice.
So how did I find lil Miss Spanish Maria Luisa at the banco? Facebook! Definitely join a Facebook Expats group if you haven’t already. It’s great to get ideas of places to eat, local things happening, and to find out who’s trying to rent an apartment with a doberman and 29 euro…eye roll. Very important: Take the “advice” with a grain of salt. So much of it is one person’s ill-prepared experience, is very outdated, or is something that happened to someone’s cousins, grandma’s friend.
So that’s where we started, one thing each day. Of course, contact me with any questions and I’m happy to help. If you’re stateside and thinking “omg. too much to deal!!” No worries just bookmark this and re-read this when you’re actually in Spain… “tranquila amiga” 🙂
You’re killin it!! Great advice and great experiences!
gracias madre mia;)
Great article..but as you say one persons experience is not necessarily anothers. i found that without my NIE I could do very little. i think it is more a matter of who you know not what you know
Alan – Thanks for reading. Yes, knowing people is so helpful. That’s why I wanted to write this blog with Maria-Luisa featured so people could get to her with just a passport, get an account, and meet a new friend. Suerte con todo!
hi there! so…cell phones. Did you have to get a completely new phone, or could you use your US iphone with a new sim card? if you get a new sim card, i assume that means you get a new phone number…and a new data plan? Sorry to be a total idiot, but i really have no idea how this will work! :)Kristin
Hi Kristin –
My husband and I got completely new phones. We were due. However, you CAN use your US iPhone with a new SIM card. Yes you will have a new plan and a new number. Not a dumb question at all! Let me know if I can help you in any other part of your move:) Suerte Kristin…Kate
Thanks for the refereral to Maria-Luisa at Sabadell. She was super helpful and very easy to set up our initial “foreigner” account so that we have it for our rental contract in connection with utilities. FYI she has moved branches and is now at Avenida Cardenal Benlloch 11 ( corner avenida del Puerto)
Ah YES! Thank you for the reminder. I’ll update this. She emailed me and told me about the move. Thanks for reading Jeff and email if I can help you out in any way. Que te vayas bien:)
I have to say thank you our Spanish teacher María Hidalgo Mateos for sharing this wonderful blog with us. And Thank you for such great information and advice! As the process can be rather daunting but reading about someone else experience makes it’s all worthwhile. We chose Alicante, we visited back in July with our 18 year old son before he left for college and we all fell in love with the city. So now waiting for our appointment for the NLV which first week im October hopefully all we go well get our visa to start our new adventure in Alicante.